It Must Be Perfect (But Real Artists Ship)


It’s been almost two years since I started this blog with a post proclaiming my desire to become a “programmer”. At the time I was focused on the life-goal of completing my Bachelors’ Degree, which took a couple months longer than I expected. When I completed that, a more urgent life-goal came up: the need to seriously, permanently lose weight and get into something resembling shape. As it seems I can only really focus on one life-goal at a time, programming once again took a back seat. I am now nearing that goal, which you can read about on my Tumblr site: My #Plus5CHA Journey

So that’s two life-goals achieved, more or less, in the last two years. Can I do the hat-trick? That is the goal for the coming year.

Since January 2010, I have made a couple attempts to shoe-horn this into my life, making progress on the learning aspects, and even getting a couple programs (a podcast ‘fan’ app and an initiative tracker, if you’re curious) into alpha/early beta phases. But as I looked at those, then looked at my favorite apps, I got discouraged.

It must be perfect, I’d think, or it’s not worth releasing.

Luckily, and unusually for me, the projects I have in mind to start things off with haven’t changed much in the intervening time, and in fact I’ve been able to refine the ideas a bit. The podcast ‘fan’ app idea has evolved into a podcast network community app. The RPG toolset idea has evolved into a sort of “iLife for table-top RPGers” concept, albeit cross-platform (iOS/Mac OSX initially).

What hasn’t changed is the need to make something of this. I have not been some kid in his parents basement with nothing better to do for well over 20 years now, but I’m also over 20 years away from being retired with nothing better to do. I’ve got to balance this with family, friends, and a full-time job. Thus I need to work on things which could possibly generate income either directly (via sales) or indirectly (via reputation building enabling paying projects), however small.

Thus, my thought process goes, I need to produce something perfect.

I have many idols in the developer world who, while not filthy rich, are making a decent living for themselves and their families off their independent programming efforts. On average, they work on a limited set of applications, which in general have a limited target audience, but those applications are of very high quality. They could even be termed ‘perfect’ by one who was working a little loosely with the definition of the word (which we all do more often than we admit).

This is where I want to be in five or six years. Therefore I must create perfect applications.

But pragmatically, I look at where these indie developers were five or six years ago. Many of them were not independent, and some of them were not even developers. Their first applications (or first versions of their marquee application) were not perfect. In some cases they were not even pretty–or particularly useful. But they managed to get enough traction to continue, and eventually get to where they are today. Because real artists ship.

So it’s time I step up to the plate and start swinging at balls. This initiative tracker which I’ve been working on for Mac OS X is roughly half-done in a bare-bones, 1.0 sense. I’m going to finish this, as well as the iOS version which it will interface with, to at least get something out there.

Because it doesn’t really have to be perfect, but it does have to ship sometime…



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